We need to talk about Motorsport Manager. Those who read up on the game's release will have noticed one thing in particular. It isn't Formula 1. Well, it is. But it's not F1. Not officially anyway.
This is Motorsport Manager. There's no licence for the game's developers to replicate the F1 calendar, the grid, the drivers. But there is plenty of influence - you win no prizes for working out where the inspiration for the forest-backdropped Ardennes track comes from, ditto that for the Italian team with the red livery and a German/Finnish driver line-up. How does that impact on the game though?
It's an immediate hurdle, there's no two ways about it. F1 is a world-famous brand, motorsport isn't. F1 is what this game's target audience cares about, and not reflecting that 100 per cent creates a potential issue of perception.
But perhaps it's a necessary compromise. Because there's a world rich in detail offered in Motorsport Manager that would be impossible to access under the terms of a modern F1 licence.
The intriguing aspect of this game is that the possibilities it offers make it highly likely you won't even notice the lack of a licence after the first season. At the very least, it probably won't matter to you at all.
At their Guildford HQ, Playsport founder and chief technology officer Christian West and his colleagues Sam White (co-founder and art director) and Rob Pearson (design director) talk Autosport through a variety of elements of the Motorsport Manager development project. The main query in mind is, 'What were the restrictions around not having the licence and how has that impacted on the product?'.
"The first thing is making a good game," says White. "We'll strive to achieve that with or without the licence. The drivers and personalities will come through from the people we have created."
It's important to recognise this game is a labour of love. All three are motorsport fans - West "started watching F1 in the early '90s and I knew I wanted to go and make this game. So I saved for a few years to quit my job, and did that three years ago."
The result was the mobile-based Motorsport Manager, which has had more than a million downloads and achieved plenty of positive feedback from the gaming community. But for the motorsport diehard it is ultimately a very limited product. And that's where SEGA comes in.
SEGA says its target for Motorsport Manager is "to let fans live out the fantasy of running a dynamic, high-performance motorsport team". Based on Autosport's first viewing of the game, which included some time with the designers and the chance to take charge of a race in Cape Town, that should be achieved in spades.
Playsport has fully embraced the game's transition from 'mobile game created by three young men working from home' to 'fully-fledged computer product being backed by one of the biggest brands in gaming', and an increase in its studio strength from an initial trio to a 14-strong development team.
The end result is very satisfying.
Once you get past the issue of fiction versus non-fiction, the Motorsport Manager world that's been created is a wonderfully detailed, multi-layered homage to the sport's top tier. And crucially the creators insist the lack of a licence offers far greater freedom and flexibility than would be have been possible working within the restrictions of modern F1's iron grip on any kind of image rights.
Anyone who's played Football Manager will know that the depth of the game is simultaneously its most daunting and appealing asset. Motorsport Manager takes a similar approach. Everything from developing your team's headquarters - that's hosting a windtunnel or simulator to upgrading the burger van or building a test track - to deciding which of your sponsors you take to a race is under your control.
Based on that, you could argue there's little to distinguish between this game and previous attempts in the genre in terms of how you go about playing. But there are always going to be similar parameters for games, especially sports-based ones, to operate within.
The crucial element that makes Motorsport Manager such an intriguing prospect is that it's a reactive world, something that changes by the season.
Like the mid-'90s effort Grand Prix Manager 2, held up as the solid-if-unspectacular peak of the smattering of F1 management games of the previous two decades, in-race pitwall decisions are limited to similar constrictions like which tyres to start on and when to stop for fuel (refuelling is allowed in the world of the GPWC).
But, most importantly, this has been absorbed into something of far greater substance. And rightly so - if you're interested in this game, if you've been waiting for something like it, it's the detail you'll be interested in.
There are the traditional requirements to focus on when it comes to the race weekends themselves - stint length, downforce versus drag, tyre compounds, etc - and the in-race parameters are naturally tyre wear and fuel (dictated by you assigning a driving style or engine mode to each driver).
But they are complemented by feedback from the driver over part degradation, or frustration over strategy choices, which helps make the races more dynamic.
If you make your driver adopt a conservative engine mode, prepare for requests to turn the wick up and push. Ditto if you are saving tyres. And because each driver has a slightly different personality, how that plays out over a season - will your relationship gradually erode? - the small decisions can add up to a big impact.
You certainly shouldn't get the feeling that the race weekends 'get in the way' of the rest of the game. Maybe that sounds obvious, but put simply it's a possibility because beyond the race weekend itself the game is certainly not lacking in parameters - there's as much fun to be had off track as there is on it.
Beyond the infrastructure that will determine the status, expectations and performance of your team, there are a host of areas you need to control. The drivers are an obvious asset, but there's a reserve option to consider as well.
And who you should hire to be your race mechanics, who build chemistry with their drivers throughout the game, and your chief engineer, whose main attribute is component knowledge, are also important considerations.
The same goes for who should be supplying the materials for your design facility, or your ECU, engine and fuel.
But then it gets more interesting. There's an international motorsport association that as one of the GPWC team bosses you'll have a presence within. That means you have a vote when it comes to rule changes - tweaks to the calendar, alterations to circuit layouts, or rule changes. These are all possibilities as your career in the game develops.
The ultimate objective in the career is to take a team from the second tier - the Continental Cup - into the Grand Prix World Championship. But you're not tied to that team for eternity. And, more importantly, to anyone who grew frustrated by the monotony that restricts the console-based official F1 racing games, other characters in the game change their roles as well, from drivers to team bosses.
The game is endless, in theory, which means the (fictional) driver roster will be constantly updated, with champions becoming team bosses, and 'children-of' appearing as future drivers a genuine possibility if you play for long enough.
It will be available to edit through the Steam Workshop, so if you enjoy modifying games like this you can plonk yourself in as a driver as well and guide yourself to Max Verstappen-style stardom.
Perhaps the never-ending, sandbox-esque element of Motorsport Manager will let it offer something more - changing team and driver names is an easy way for fans to eliminate the problem the lack of a licence poses. Just how much the game is allowed to be opened up remains to be seen, but it's an interesting community-driven element that previous games have lacked.
There are less intense options, such as open career (in which you take over any team) and single-race mode. Single-race mode is where Autosport got its first hands-on taste of grand prix management by securing Cape Town victory from eighth on the grid thanks to a bold three-stop strategy - although the less said about forgetting to turn down the engine setting on the second car and causing it to run out of fuel the better...
Is it a shame you can't race as Ferrari or McLaren? Yes. Is it a shame you can't assemble that Vettel/Hamilton superteam that reality almost certainly prohibits? Yes. But these short-term turn-offs are hardly insurmountable. In Football Manager or the EA Sports FIFA franchise, part of the fun is digging out the next crop of stars from the game's self-generated player pool.
Yes, the main benefit there is that you're still dealing with real teams. But again, if you're able to tinker with the code (and the nature of the internet means that shouldn't be too daunting a prospect) you'll be able to manipulate a name-change or 10 if you so desire.
That is ultimately a sacrifice that has had to be made for this game to be brought to life. SEGA won't be drawn on what's to come, or whether it even pushed for the licence in the first place. One thing that does look nailed on is there won't be the sort of year-by-year instalments that most sports titles live by. But perhaps that's not essential given the flexibility of the Motorsport Manager game engine.
Those at the heart of the project are satisfied with the end result, and Pearson calls it "a living, breathing world of motorsport". That's a neat summation of, again, what makes this feel like a real step forward for a genre that's never really been properly tapped into by motorsport.
The game is due for release later this year, some time around September, and is in the final throes of development. In the months between Autosport's visit and its launch, small refinements will be made to eliminate bugs and add just a dash more colour.
And that's what should make this game a rich, fulfilling and, most importantly, fun experience for anyone who gives it a chance. It would have been so easy for this to turn out half-baked or oversimplified. But the design team - motorsport fans at heart - haven't let that happen.
F1 being F1, I wouldn't expect an officially-licenced management game to depict the real-world and offer all that this title does in terms of adaptability. Drivers joining rival teams, your voice among the rulemakers allowing you to vote through major rule changes - it all contributes to a shifting landscape that gives the game added dynamism.
So, yes, it is missing something, but you'll get over it quite quickly once the aspects of the game that make it so enticing come into play - probably after the first season.
September can't come soon enough for me, as one of many, many Football Manager fans. Games like this, done well, are easy to get lost in. That means despite the game's main negative, the final product is still set to be everything I hoped for - and, more importantly, much more than I expected.
Here's an example. It's contract renewal time. After eight years at Princes Park, one of my most loyal servants - who also happens to be, statistically, the worst player on my roster at Dartford Football Club - is set to leave. He offers nothing, he's fourth pick for his position and without a start all season.
But he's been a part of my side's rise from non-league to the Championship, and a crucial part of those promotion-winning campaigns in the Conference and the lower two tiers of the Football League. So I throw him on for the final game. It's a dead rubber, so it's the least I can do.
And he scores. Twice.
That's it. New contract. Now I have to get into the Premier League and complete the fairytale.
My relationship with Mikhail Kennedy, whom I signed because (on the game) he was a rejected youngster at my (real-life) favourite football club, is symbolic of why I love Football Manager.
Like many others, I think I know better than the professionals. I like the tactics, I like building the right staff around me and moulding the team over seasons. But I also have a soft spot for the personal relationships it can make you develop with a bunch of ones and zeros.
As someone who's always enjoyed this side of sports gaming, I've waited a long time for a proper motorsport version. I've waited a long time to see if it's possible to adapt my favourite game to my favourite sport.
Thanks to SEGA, the video game development/publishing behemoth that acquired Football Manager creator Sports Interactive a decade ago, my wait is almost over.
And I couldn't be more excited.